Squalor in Steall

This story, by Robin Forrest, describes the perils of using mountain huts many years ago.

An inauspicious start (ie Friday 13th December 1998) did nothing to deter a sizable crew of fresh new faces and stalwarts from making the annual IMC trek to Upper Glen Nevis. The curse of Black Friday didn’t precipitate anyone into the river from the bouncy bridge, despite the obligatory pub stop on the way, and indeed the first ‘winter’ weekend of the season beckoned enticingly. Peter and Barry were up and away early to perform mighty feats of marathon walking on mighty Mamores. They were followed by assorted laggards with the same general plan in mind but determined to enjoy breakfast at a slightly more civilised hour.

The non-Alpine team comprising the Carol, Julian, Pete, big Donald fae Kinlochbervie, and myself decided conditions were ideal for testing a new toy – a GPS device – on Aonach Beag. It was keep up or get lost as the man with the magic box scurried off onwards and upwards into the gathering gloom at his usual discouragingly high rate of knots. As it happens the summit cairn was attained using more traditional hit-and-miss navigation techniques involving much standing around, pointing in various directions with ice-axes and even, it is rumoured, the use of the map. Incidentally, can anyone explain why the sixth highest summit in the land is marked by a pitifully small cairn?

The Mamores from Meall Mor

Veterans of the last Steall meet (February 1997) who elected to stay away thanks to queasy recollections concerning the squalid state of the hut were vindicated in that nothing much has changed, ie the lights are still kaput, the cookers put out about as many BTU’s as a damp match, and the only comfortable place to sleep is on the mountain rescue stretcher. Lochaber JMCS should pay people to use the place, not the other way round. Fortunately the lack of light meant we couldn’t see the worst of the squalor and a sociable time was had by all, particularly big Donald fae KLB who appeared to drink most of a bottle of uisge beatha all by himself.

Sunday saw the multitudes disperse to all points of the compass once again. The GPS Evaluation Team from the day before decided on a mass assault of Stob Ban on the grounds that, the summit being clear, it could be located without taking a degree in advanced computing first. Even so, Peter must have been suffering withdrawal symptoms as he declared UDI at the col and went off to commune with the clag on Sgor an Iubhair. As may be imagined Donald was suffering from a sair heid and, deciding that the best hangover cure around was yet more exercise, was seen striding out for Mullach nan Coirean. For all we know he’s still out walking yet! (Ed- do not dismay, Donald was around for another day)

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